mad in pursuit journal


Discovering Frank Barrett

My brother Tom found this tintype stuck in the back of an old piece of furniture that belonged to my grandmother.

Francis Barrett
Original scan Restored version

Unfortunately he'd already slathered on some varnish remover and the some of the photo emulsion had come off the tin.

My mother thinks it may be her grandfather Frank Barrett, who died in 1899, when her father was 17. He has the Barrett look, with those blue eyes. And his nose has a certain familiarity to it. I want to believe it's him because it means that now I have a complete set of photos of all eight great-grandparents.

It was a great way to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon, repairing and brightening the image, staring at the clear eyes and fine nose in gigantic detail on my screen. Now that Jim and I are looking at the results, I'm not sure I interpreted the tie correctly. But I'll leave that research for another day.

Frank's death caused a huge amount of stress for his ambitious son Tom, who had to drop out of school and support his mother and younger siblings. It was a source a great bitterness — perhaps why the photo was never cased or displayed, but stuck in the back of a drawer. Isn't is ironic that both Frank and his son Tom died in their 40s, leaving 4 children?


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